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If patience is a virtue, Whitmer senior basketball standout Nigel Hayes was a pretty virtuous guy Friday night against visiting Northview.
Entering halftime, the 6-foot-7, Wisconsin-bound forward had zero points and had taken just three shots from the field. Whitmer led by just five.
By the time the final horn sounded, however, Hayes had filled the stat sheet with 14 points, 20 rebounds, nine assists, and three blocked shots, and his Panthers won 61-47.
“He’s too unselfish and, as his coach, I’m kind of frustrated with that,” Whitmer coach Bruce Smith said. “But it certainly beats the alternative of having a guy who looks for himself first and the team second. We’ve got guys scoring points largely because of his unselfish play.”
Whitmer (7-1) got a game-high 19 points from junior sub Jon Ashe. Northview (4-4) was paced by 11 points from senior sub Deon Valentine.
In the opening half, the Wildcats dictated the game’s tempo, using a deliberate offensive approach and an effective zone defense to make the Panthers work for their points.
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The second half was a whole different story, as Hayes took over — first with the pass, then by converting his own shots. Of Ashe’s nine field goals, Hayes assisted on six of them, all wide-open layups.
“He just owes me a high five and a ‘Good game,’ ” Hayes said when asked what Ashe owed him for the game’s scoring honors. “I told my teammates to look for their shots, and he took the advice and had 19 points.”
As far as rebounding, Hayes pulled down 13 in roughly 13 minutes of play after halftime. “I credit my maturity,” Hayes said of his patient play. “My parents and coaches have taught me not to force anything. They want me to get my shots, but I had open teammates.
“[The Wildcats] were keying in on me, sending two or three guys. So, I found my teammates, and they hit the shots. That’s why we came out with the win.”
Northview lead 9-8 after one quarter, but after Chris Boykin (eight points) converted a layup to open the second quarter, Whitmer had a lead they never relinquished.
Chris Parker beat the first-half buzzer with a 3-pointer to send Whitmer up 23-18. Northview got within 23-20 before the Panthers went on a game-breaking 20-3 run.
Hayes scored nine of his points during that stretch, including a dunk and a 3-pointer just 22 seconds apart, to give the Panthers a 43-23 edge with 1:07 left in the third.
“He facilitates our offense,” Smith said of Hayes, “whether its him scoring or throwing the ball to other people. That was the biggest difference between the two halves.”
Whitmer was 26 of 51 from the field, 4 of 5 from the line, and outrebounded the Wildcats 34-28. Ricardo Smith added nine points for the Panthers.
“We came out with a lot of energy in the first half, and I don’t know if it was tired legs or what [in second half], but we just didn’t have the same energy and the same rotation on our zone,” Northview coach Terry Shadle said. “They kind of picked our zone apart, and Nigel’s just a heck of a player.”
Northview was 17 of 52 from the field, including 2 of 14 from 3-point range, and hit 11 of its 17 foul shots. Aerin West added nine points and Hartnett eight for the Wildcats.
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